For anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, I’m a huge fan of Ms Cupake. Back in April 2011, Ms Cupcake set up the first all vegan bakery in London. It has been a huge success and recently celebrated its 2nd birthday. I was hooked way before the bakery opened, back when Ms Cupcake created all of her delicious treats from her own flat and spread that sugary love from market stalls all over the city.
I didn’t think anyone else could give me the kind of sugar rush Ms Cupcake could. Well, up until now anyway, because finally some of her naughty secrets have been unleashed in a brand spanking new cookbook. And speaking of naughty secrets, I’ve had my greedy little paws on this new book for a while now.
Before I get into all the sticky, delicious details I’ll give a brief overview. The first thing I need to say about the book is that it is stunning. It’s definitely the most beautiful cookbook in my vast collection. It is packed full of photos, something that can be rare in a lot of vegan cookbooks. I love being able to see exactly what I’m making is supposed to look like and, I won’t lie, I love a bit of food porn to drool over too. The entire book captures everything that Ms Cupcake as a brand is all about. I was delighted to see photos of all the staff posing together, with delicious baked goods throughout the book. Flicking through the pages took me back to that amazing atmosphere at her stalls and inside her shop, something I’ve missed since moving from London.
The photos may look a bit daunting for a beginner as everything looks so fancy and delicate, but I can assure you that even if you have very little experience in baking there is no reason to be afraid. The book begins explaining the basics of vegan baking, what can substitute what and some very important rules that will ensure you get fantastic results. There is also a section on common vegan baking problems and a very useful table converting all those bizarre American terms, measurements and brands to the British equivalent. I finally know what Graham Crackers are! Hurrah!
I will admit I was initially disappointed in the selection of cupcakes, but I know it was the irrational Ms Cupcake fan girl inside me. Having been a bit of a stalker of the shop when it first opened (in my defense I only lived 10 minutes away) I have lost count of the amount of insane flavours the place has to offer. Watermelon, grape, jaffa cake, ferrero rocher, cola, neapolitan, banoffee…I could go on. But then the sensible side of me kicked in, the book isn’t just full of cupcake recipes. And even if it was, there still wouldn’t be enough pages to squeeze everything I love in. There are layer cakes, muffins, loaves, bars, brownies, cookies and deep fried goodness. There are DOUGHNUTS! DEEP FRIED CHOCOLATE BARS! JAFFA CAKES! NANAIMO BARS! LEMON CURD! Basically the disappointment disappeared as soon as I turned the pages. There is stuff in this book that you can’t find in other cookbooks. Plus, the basics are all laid out for you in the cupcake flavours that are there (Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Lemon Cheesecake, Cherry Bakewell to name a few..) so you have the option to experiment and use whatever flavours you’re craving anyway.
I was tempted to make absolutely everything from the book, but due to me piling on the pounds from all the reviewing I’ve been doing lately, I limited myself. I stuck to basics because generally if the basics are right, you can guarantee everything else will be awesome too.
Before I baked anything from the book, I tried out some icing and chocolate ganache for some cakes I had already made before it arrived. I have never quite been able to get my icing like Ms Cupcakes, and believe me, I’ve tried. The buttercream recipes here in this book are amazing. They ‘crust’ up beautifully and are nice and stable, very useful if you’re planning on carrying them anywhere. The ganache is incredible and just adds that extra quality and flavour to your cakes. Slightly expensive to make for everything as it requires two expensive ingredients, but perfect for special occasions when you want to impress. Although I say it is expensive, it does go far. You don’t need to slather your cake tops in the stuff, just a little does the job, it can be used for multiple batches and keeps in the fridge for a while.
The first of my bakes was the brownies. Probably one of my favourites from the shop. These brownies are moist, gooey, chocolatey heaven. The ultimate decadent treat. They were so easy to throw together. I did manage to overbake the outside ones slightly (I blame my oven) but the rest were as gooey and delicious as I imagined they would be. It was definitely a perfect recipe to begin with.
Next came a basic chocolate cupcake. The recipe wasn’t too different to the one I use but the different ingredients used show exactly how Ms Cupcake can get such an impressive rise on her cakes. I did find this recipe slightly delicate, which isn’t surprising as it uses more raising agents than I’m used to. My oven was playing up again and the cakes weren’t quite ready when I expected them to be, so due to these factors they dipped a little. Nothing a load of sugar can’t fix and there were some helpful tips included in the book to help me perfect it next time. Like all recipes, it takes a bit of practice to get it perfect, especially as everyone uses different brands of ingredients and ovens can vary from kitchen to kitchen.
I would probably disappoint Ms Cupcake by saying this, but I had some frosting leftover from my chocolate cupcakes. I obviously did not put enough muscle into my piping! To stop me squeezing the leftovers directly into my mouth, I decided it was best to make a batch of cookies so that I could sandwich some up with frosting. These cookies…these cookies…oh my….these cookies are the best I have ever made. There is an incredibly simple tip that comes with this recipe that ensures you get that flat, chewy cookie you desire. I cannot say enough about these. They were just amazing.
I can recommend this book to everyone, from beginners to experts, vegans and non vegans, this book is a must have. I’m so excited to get to the deep fried treats and the Jaffa Cakes are next on my list. Ms Cupcake has come incredibly far over the last few years and I’m proud and inspired by how far her and her staff have come. I know there is more to come in the future and I can’t wait.
“Ms Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town” is officially released on May 9th with an RRP of £16.99, so make sure you get your hands on a copy. And if you find yourself in London, get yourself down to the bakery in Brixton too. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed!